Spend enough time among snowboarders and you’ll come across at least one. The shredipedia, the walking fountain of knowledge, the fella who hears a track on the radio and chirps up with ‘name the video part!’ – of course they already know the answer, but do you?
You’ll find this kind of fan in many sports. I once met someone who could name you the starting line up for any given English football team, at least as far back as 1995. A handy skill in many situations, no doubt…
But in snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing the phenomenon is all too familiar, and it counts for more than just conversation filler. We often amount in-depth knowledge with a certain type of kudos – it sorts the wheat from the chaff, the ‘locals’ from the ‘kooks’, as well as joining together an international niche(ish) community through their shared cultural history (i.e. it gives us something to chat about). But the real enthusiasm for this fact banking seems to come from the generation of snowboarders for whom it was actually possible to list all the movie releases from one year on a single page. I hesitate to generalise, but I’d imagine that such comprehensive recollection of the snowboarding archives is a bit of a lost art amongst many millennials?
“We’ve grown up with information overload. Videos that rack up endlessly. Instant emotional reactions quickly replaced by the next big thing.”
We’ve grown up with information overload. Videos that rack up endlessly. Instant emotional reactions quickly replaced by the next big thing, compounding all too often into an overall feeling of indifference. How many instances can you think of where you were super-hyped about the latest video-part-hammer-fest on Wednesday, only to have completely forgotten about it by the weekend?
The pre-session VHS that’s been lovingly re-played ’till it’s worn out is a familiar story told by those who lived through snowboarding’s formative years, but attention spans in the digital age rarely have the same thirst for repetition (GIFs and viral ‘lol’ vids notwithstanding).
So are standards dropping? Is snowboarding ‘dead’? Is nobody doing anything worth mentioning anymore? Far from it. The web’s just so bubbling with life that for a clip to earn its place amongst a wider snowboarding history, it has to be more than that kid who did every 270-on rail combo in the book. To avoid becoming part of the quickly forgotten background noise, there surely has to be a little bit more brought to the table? Even the old-schoolers’ encyclopedic knowledge tends to fade out as you start to talk about the late noughties – it’s just becoming harder and harder to keep track of what’s gone down.